To Ngoc Van’s Conception About Art

To Ngoc Van – Life & Careers

From the first exhibition of To Ngoc Van in Sai Gon (17/12/1930) to the day when he passed away in Dien Bien Phu campaign (17/06/1954), his artistic life lasted for 24 years with 2 phases of composition 1930-1945 (before the August Revolution) and 1945-1954 (the war against France). In fact, the social history had had a great impact on his career. If the art reflects the changes in social relations, To Ngoc Van’s paintings partially demonstrate such things.
Indochina Fine Arts College was established in winter 1925 with the first Vietnamese artist generation such as Le Pho, Mai Trung Thu, Le Van De, Nguyen Phan Chanh, Cong Van Trung and Georges Khanh. To Ngoc Van was in the second Vietnamese artist generation had learned in this college. He had had the chance to be taught by French teachers, learned artistic technique such as history about the art of cubes, the application of natural colors in order to create renowned pictures afterward. Artist Tran Binh Loc wrote: “In terms of artistic field, To Ngoc Van career is worth being appreciated because he had a good vision, a quality that not all the artist did”. From the beginning, he did not accept the aesthetic ideal of Greece and Italian arts with cold shades of gray, respect for the symmetry, graphics glitches in the classic contour. He had discovered and asserted itself to find beauty, harmony between man and nature.
Graduated in 1931, To Ngoc Van had collaborated with some Vietnamese newspaper such as Phong Hoa, Ngay Nay, Thanh Nghi. Under his pen name To Tu, Ai My, he had written and painted many Vietnam paintings on those newspapers till 1945. If Nguyen Do Cung was a talented artist, an archeologist, To Ngoc Van had completed his mission of opening a new aesthetic practice, a sharp art critic with his new conception of art in general.

To Ngoc Van Artist
To Ngoc Van Artist

To Ngoc Van’s conception about art

Derived from the concept “the beauty in the picture is not the beauty in reality”, in the period from 1930 to 1945, To Ngoc Van’s art style had followed the Western art tendencies but was appropriate for Vietnamese society in the 1930s, the last years of campaign bourgeois revolution. French army, on the one hand, suppressed revolutions; on the other hand, they seduced the Vietnamese people to play the whore. Tu Luc Van Doan group had issued a manifesto that criticized the patriarchal behaviors of Vietnamese people. In these years, To Ngoc Van was in harmony with Tu Luc Van Doan group, he ascertained that his art style was in the same situation with intelligentsia’s one. Many of To Ngoc Van’s artworks in the newspapers such as landscape, Hanoian women expressed his artistic conception about shape, material, color, natural lights
At this time, similar to the artistic aesthete of To Ngoc Van, Nguyen Do Cung had depicted a beauty through narrative “Live and Draw” that was issued in Xuan Thu Nha Tap Journal in 1942. This was a big journal issued many topics such as literature, poem and painting and created by Nguyen Luong Ngoc. Established in 1942, this group had their own art tendency, manifesto, the poem that followed “hermétique” style. Nguyen Do Cung’s work “Live and Draw” was based on To Ngoc Van’s conception about art. His conception accepted that art is a means of expressing emotion rather than a research about the ideal model of beauty. It also confirmed that art must evaluate the human’s value and emotion. He wrote: “I think that a beautiful picture describes my feeling. Therefore, I only believe that a man with full of emotion will become a famous artist”.
All of the To Ngoc Van’s paintings in the period 1930-1945 had demonstrated his conception of art that expressed his personal feeling with the gorgeous tone of color. Although mainly exposed with classical art, French impression under the guidance of professor Victor Tardieu, Inguimberty, he realized the frivolity of the French impression that ignores the human’s emotion. Artist Tran Van Can said “To Ngoc Van had graduated in 1931. It was easy to spot the Gauguin’s influence in picture “Offrande” and Acgianta’s influence on the work “Cadeau de Noce” or Japanese art in work “two shepherd children”.

Thanh Nghi newspaper number 87, 12/10/1944 made a comment about the art exhibition in 1944: “Along with warm yellow tone of color of some artists is oil pain with the bright cold shade of color of To Ngoc Van- an artist always loves his life. Under his eyes, the gloomy scene has something happy inside”. In fact, in terms of To Ngoc Van conception about art, color is the soul of a work no matter what material it is and the artist is the one who controls the emotion to find the inner beauty to express the sophistication of life”. Picasso said: “ I do not find but I see”. We can see that To Ngoc Van’s artistic conception was quite similar to Picasso’s conception.

To Ngoc Van’s artworks about the girls

Young women are always the source of inspiration for the artists. For the artist, it is not only the beauty of the figure but also the beauty of the concept. It is immutable but flexible, transforming wonderfully in each pen brush. It is not an exception with To Ngoc Van.

To Ngoc Van’s paintings – Young Women with a Lilies

In the painting “Young Women with a Lilies”, by the Western realism and combined with the Oriental sensibility of To Ngoc Van, the young women in a white “long skirt” tilting her head naturally toward the vase. She appeared in a lyrical and innocent figure, evokes something very refined and peaceful. With a tight layout and a skillful way using color, “Young Women with a Lilies” has shown the softness and the charm in the curve of the young women and the rosy glow on her cheek. Especially, the pure white lily flowers embellished her beauty.

To Ngoc Van’s paintings – Two girls and a baby

One of the most beautiful paintings by To Ngoc Van is “Two girls and a baby” which became the National Treasure in 2014. In the painting, the artist chose the scene which is a cozy corner in the house. The older sister in yellow shirt sitting gracefully on the bamboo pallet. The younger sister dressed in white with the restless sitting position. She needs advice from her sister for her first love. The scene of the ancient Vietnamese family appears in every detail of the landscape and the people.


Exhibition ” East meet West”

Main Artists:

Bui Huong Thuy.

Born and having grown up in Hanoi, with a strong love for art, Thuy Bui Howarth has found her own way to express herself through lacquer – a very special and precious material from Vietnam- to create unique paintings. Maybe still considered as a new comer in Europe, in fact, Vietnamese lacquer painting ( or Sơn Mài) has been in existence for over 80 years. Previously, for thousands of years, lacquer was used for the decoration of objects.

Thuy’s paintings are very much influenced by music and nature. You can see the orchestra of life created by a fun-and-stun process of using breathtaking and original techniques and materials. These include eggshell, mother of pearl, silver and gold leaves. These materials are rubbed with sand paper until the colours and textures burst out of the surface, layer by layer.20476341_10213334067284305_3591188666940634601_n



In the exhibition of lacquer painting, there are also ceramic works by Bui Minh Hong.

Graduated from University in Geneva with MBA degree but having a great passion and love with clay, Bui Minh Hong decided to leave the office to work as a potter. Inspired by Asian traditional technique and Western modern style, she creates the unique and high quality products.



Exhibition “Little Space”

From 9th to 15th December, 2016
56 lastest lacquer paintings and ceramics will be exibited

Main Artists:

Nguyen Tuan Cuong
Biography: “I have been drawing old objects since 2007 because I found that those beheld the antique and quiet beauty. Old objects remind people of memories of life and they are representatives of cultural and social pattern. I am pretty fond of objects with simple shapes such as eggs and cylinder objects. In addition, I am impressed by ceramics in Ly-Tran dysnaty. In my opinion, each object has its own world. It is such a magic world where shelters them from changes throughout human’s history. I express those emotions and ideas through the Vietnam lacquer which I have been making use of for 20 years”

Vu Tuan Dung
Biography: “My creative insprirations has been taken from the ancient tradition and culture of Vietnam. My work depicts apparently shades as well as the transformation of the transformation of the spectacular life around. I aspire to execute paintings embodying the soul of Vietnam and reflecting my points of view about reality. I focus on the normal object but dig deep into its appearance and material. Lacquer painting gives me an opportunity to awake my senses and listen to “material story”. Unlike oil painting, it is an artistic world which needs the understanding and respecting”
Tran Tien Thanh
Biography: Born in 1975 in Hanoi, Tran Tien Thanh has taken part in many art exhibitions in Vietnam and oversea such as: Military Art Exhibition, National fine arts exhibition, Beijing lacquer Exhibition and Hanoi annual art Exhibition . His lacquer painting works depict tranquil daily life around with warm tone of colour
Opening Reception 18:00, Friday, 9th December, 2016

Artist Nguyen Tu Nghiem passed away

According to an announcement of Vietnam Fine Arts Association, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, a veteran Vietnamese artist passed away, at the age of 94, on 15th June 2016. The artist was born in Nghe An province, located in the center of Vietnam and graduated from Indochina Fine Arts College (1941-1946). He was famous for painting lacquer, oil paint and pigments.
He used to teach in Hanoi Fine Arts University in the period from 1959 to 1960. He also worked as a lecture in Hanoi Industrial Fine Arts University, a member of the first Executive Committee of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association (1957- 1983) and an artist of ‘ composing group’ of Vietnam Fine Arts Association . Earlier in the war in Indochina, he was responsible for lecturing arts on the Viet Bac Revolutionary Base.
The artist was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize in Literature and Arts in 1996 and known as one of the most creative painters who pioneered to experiment new materials for lacquer painting in Vienam. Nghiem was also successful with oil painting on canvas and water color. He is regarded as one of the four greatest painters in 20th century Vietnam along with Bui Xuan Phai(1920-1988), Duong Bich Lien (1924-1988) and Nguyen Sang (1923-1988).

Exhibition “Vietnam lacquer Story”

Exhibition "Vietnam lacquer Story"

Opening: 17:00, Friday, 04.15.2016
Exhibition: 15/04 – 05/02/2016
Location: Cultural Exchange Center
50 Dao Duy Tu, Ha Noi

Information from the organizers:
Exhibition “Vietnam lacquer Story” introduces a generalized overview of the traditional paint job (with photos, artifacts of gardenia, tools, and processing techniques) and Contemporary Art of Lacquer Vietnam (with the participation of 8 artists and villages).
Thereby, exhibitors want to promote and celebrate a traditional craft with the traditional cultural values of Vietnam, within the framework of traditional honor of Old Quarter in 2016 and Hanoi City.

The exhibition of 50 original works of visual art

The exhibition of 50 original works of visual art

From 6th to 27th April, Goethe Institution to cooperate with Museum of Fine Art in Leizig will to organized the exhibition “ Storyteller – Comtemporary Art from Leizig” with 50 works by 11 Artist of New Leipzig school. The event will take place at the Vietnam Fine Art Museum and the Goethe Institution.
This event is the first step, to maks the first cooperation between a big Museum in Germany with Goethe Institution in the field of organizing exhibitions in Vietnam.
The woks on paper will be on show at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum and thé video works will be introduce at the Goethe Institution Hanoi. The catalog of exhibition will be give for visitor come to participate raised of exhibition.

Art Exhibition “9X”


Open: 20th March, 2016
Finish: 24th March, 2016
Location: Vietnam Fine Arts Exhibition

Art Exhibition “9X” is held by Young Artists Club – Vietnam Fine Arts Association with the theme “Bright – Fresh- Enthusiastic”. It is an occasion marked the launch of a new generation of young artists.
The exhibition is a new beginning of a new generation of young artists in the generation of “9X” with full of youth, ambition and dedication as the criteria theme “Bright – Fresh- Enthusiastic”. Exhibition with the participation of 11 new factors of the Young Artist Club: Nguyen Tuan Dung, Truong Van Ngoc, Nguyen Dinh Son, Nguyen Van Phuong, Pham Xuan Quynh, Nguyen Van Huy, Chu Van Son, Tran Van Thuoc, Nguyen Van Dieu, Nguyen Van Diep … will bring to an interesting event and award shows, such as new wind blowing in artistic life.
Join in the chain exhibition “9X”, there is a solo exhibition named “You” by Nguyen Tuan Dung- an young artists. According to organizers, the exhibition will open at 17 pm from Day 20/3 – 24/3/2016. At the end of the exhibition, a seminars will be held at 9 a.m on 24th March at the Vietnam Fine Arts Exhibition at 16 Ngo Quyen, Hanoi.

“ Handshake” Art Exhibition


Open: 4th– 12th, March 2016

Location: Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts

Art Exhibition “Handshake” collects more than 80 works by 16 artists, including 6 Russian artists.

On 3rd March, the opening event of the 5th Art Exhibition Vietnam – Russia Handshake is held in Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum. This year, the organizers send invitation to artists from the South Central Provinces, Central Highlands, Ho Chi Minh City and Russian artists in the city of Magadan, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok.

This is an annual exchange activity between the two countries’ artists, initiated by Prof. Dr. Olga Zotova – Faculty of Journalism and Publishing, Far Eastern Federal University in Russia and Bui Van Quang – the manager of Vietnam Fine arts Association in Khanh Hoa.

According to Bui Van Quang, this is the exhibition with the largest number of participants. Mr Quang said that the subjects of Russian artists in this exhibition are mainly landscapes, realism. The participants are very famous.

The painters exchange the art and culture of the two countries in the outdoor painting sessions at the fishing village, the small islands of Nha Trang and Vladivostok. They are introduced traditional food, music programs and some rural traditions locally.



Vietnamese Lacquer Painting

Vietnamese Lacquer Painting

Lacquered items have been found in ancient tombs in Vietnam dating as far back as the third and fourth centuries B.C. Over the centuries, Vietnamese master craftsmen and artists have mastered techniques using lacquer for purpose of decoration and preservation. Lacquer paintings now can compete successfully with silk and oil paintings and have the unique character of this style of painting.
Artistic Characteristics:
Lacquer traditionally comes in three colors – brown, black and vermilion. By the 1930s, artists started to use a new technique known as chiseling which gives a richer mix of colors and an added sense of size and distance..
The painting is done on wood. It is covered with a piece of cloth glued to it using the sap of the lacquer tree and then coated with a layer of the sap mixed with earth. The board is then sand papered and recoated with a layer of hot sap. After polishing, this gives a smooth black surface with a brilliant luster.
The painter uses hot lacquer to draw the outline of a picture and the colors are applied one by one, layer upon layer. Each coat dries slowly.
The finishing touches consist of polishing and washing the pictures. This process may seem like brutal treatment for a work of art, but it is done with great care. This process leaves a brilliant surface on a painting.

Art exhibition “Welcome Binh Than 2016”


On 16th February, 2016 in Hanoi, The Union of The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, in association with The Department of Fine Art, Photography and Exhibition organized art exhibition

“Welcome Binh Than 2016”, to send to art loving residents of the capital wishes for a new year with the works of fine art and photography to welcome a new spring season with much aspiration.

The exhibition displays 42 works including 21 art works and 19 photographs of 15 artists. Each work represents the author’s feelings about the beauty of nature, life, country and people of

Viet Nam. Viewers can feel the change of daily life to become fresher with the hope for a new year of peace, prosperity and happiness.

The displayed works at this time have been contributed by many artists such as Vi Kien Thanh, Ma The Anh, Ngo Quang Duong, Dinh Minh Dong, Do vu Ngoc Trang, Hoanh Minh Duc, Tran Kim Thoa,

Nguyen Phu Quy, Pham Ha Hai, Phung Quang Luyen, Pham Cao Son… the artists work at many different majors but with the passion for art and the enthusiasm, they has often invest a lot of time in

composing, and introducing works to assert their position in art field.